Jenova Chen’s flOw


Working on a Thesis for wind tunnel flow visualization with pressure sensitive paints and reconstructed 3D has had me thinking about the role of of organic procedural generation in interactivity. Without a specific game goal except change, simple physical rules and subcomponments can be assembled by the player in a kinetic interface (i.e. on that moves and evolves in an animated fashion, conserving energy and momentum in an intuitive, physical way).

Jenova Chen’s Masters thesis flOw is a perfect and now classic example of interactive procedural generation. Check it out, and read the instructions,

The mechanics of the execution can be composed of:

  1. Mouse follower algorithm with segment trailing
  2. animation loops for atomic components (individual “cells”)
  3. collision behavior for each cell (i.e. mouth component with any other cell)
  4. Rendering of current depth level and lower level (separated by guassian blur)
  5. organism behavior rules (i.e. chase food, random walk)

The exploration aspect of the game is very interesting:

  1. how will my organism evolve as it eats and interacts?
  2. How will the variety of new cellular components and oranisms change as I explore deeper?

Often these two aspects of an interactive are found together – exploration and growth through environmental interaction. This is effectively a plot line, in this case procedurally generated, meaning no two game sessions will be exactly the same – this makes replay value high.


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